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    Turning the corner

    Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace. ~Bhagavad Gita, 12:12 Non-attachment is one of the principal teachings of all ancient wisdom traditions, and allows us to remain in the flow of life where the only constant is change. Called aparigraha in Sanskrit, it is the fifth of the five Yama, or observances, in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. It’s a profound concept, but essentially it means taking only what we need, keeping only what is necessary in the moment, and – most importantly – letting go when the time is right! This is…

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    Guru Purnima – Honouring our teachers

    Today’s full moon is my favourite moon of the year, because it is Guru Purnima. Purnima means full moon in Sanskrit, and Guru means the remover (ru) of darkness (gu). This special full moon is also known as Buddha Purnima to Buddhists, and Vyasa Purnima in honour of Veda Vyasa, who was both the author and a character in the epic Mahabharata (“the great land of light”). For thousands of years, this has been a time of honouring the teacher and the teachings that lead us to enlightenment. Regardless of the appearance or form or your guru, or whether there have been many or just one very special teacher, the…

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    The Second International Yoga Conference in Delhi, India

    I was very pleased to have been able to be a Delegate for Belgium at the second International Yoga Conference in Delhi on 22 & 23 June 2016, along with my colleague, Bernadette Erpicum. Thirty five countries were represented, invited by AYUSH, the Indian Ministry for Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy. I enjoyed meeting nearly all national representatives, hearing about their communities and in some cases (notably Afghanistan, Kenya and Kuwait) also about the challenges they face in finding  acceptance for the practice of yoga on an official level. China had a large delegation, and yoga is really booming there. It was particularly inspiring to see that…

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    Prajnaparadha, Our Crimes Against Wisdom

    Prajnaparadha is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “crimes against wisdom” (!). It’s a central concept in Yoga and Ayurveda, because it’s understood that doing things we know we shouldn’t is the cause of most disease and other suffering. Certainly, much of the suffering I have encountered personally and professionally has been the result of not doing what I knew I should, or doing what I knew I shouldn’t! Choosing to do something that we know deep down is not good for us – by ignoring or overriding our intuition or simple common sense – inevitably leads to trouble down the line.  Sometimes it’s only little things, like feeling uncomfortable after…

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    Effort and Awakening

    Satchitananda “Knowledge of the truth of existence is bliss” Words can be so confusing. In our practice of postural yoga and meditation, terms from Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese or Japanese are often used because they describe more accurately than Western languages the deeper meaning of what one is trying to convey. One of these terms is Advaita. In a superficial translation, we could say it means “non-dual” awareness – there is no separate self. But to a mind focused on the material world (called Maya in Sanskrit – the illusion of the apparent separateness of things), this is hard to understand. Another way to describe it is “indivisible” – the profound…

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    The real nature of karma

    With so much madness in our world it’s really hard to avoid being drawn into the negativity and dualistic thinking (good/bad, us/them…) that perpetuates it. We say we want peace but we attack others for their opinions, whether it be what food to eat (as in “go vegan to protect animals from violence, or else you’re a murderous, ignorant scumbag”) or which religion to follow (“mine is the best” – including the religion of no religion!). While we (usually) censor ourselves outwardly for social acceptability, our thoughts can harbour judgements and hatreds that stretch back generations, as well as resentments and jealousies that spring from recent experience. In the true…

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    Redefining who we are

    Freshly back from a month in India and I must admit I’m reluctant to jump back into the noise of connectivity, but with a very potent solar eclipse happening overnight tonight (Tuesday), I couldn’t stay silent. If ever there was a time to focus on your spiritual journey, this is it! This is a South-Node eclipse, which means that there is a strong likelihood of letting go of something or saying goodbye to someone, metaphorically or literally, with the potential to free us up for a forward leap into a better alignment with our life’s purpose. This eclipse challenges our cherished core values, dreams and delusions. Its influence is going…

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    Be true to your Self

    For many years (decades!?) I struggled with the sharp contrast between how I wanted to live and how I actually lived, trying hard to do the things that people around me seemed to enjoy or find important, yet generally feeling inadequate, frustrated and pretty much out of the loop because I wasn’t interested in those things for the most part. Through yoga and astrology, I was able to see how important it was to be as true to myself as possible, or else experience the suffering which comes from not living in alignment with my deepest desires. This did and still does require some difficult choices, sometimes perceived as downright…

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    Learning from Pain

    “Only this actual moment is life.” Thich Nhat Hanh I have been in relatively intense pain for most of the past two months. It started out as the dull, nagging pain that briefly rears its head a few times a year, the mild twinge of an injury caused by a misguided and over-zealous therapeutic “adjustment” which tore my sacroiliac joint four years ago, and possibly triggered by a twisted ankle in June. This time, though, the pain has stayed with me, and even worsened, lingering through several visits to osteopaths, acupuncturists and other healers, and spreading down into my hip and leg. At times it takes my breath away, until…

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    Healing with Sound

    Join Ram Vakkalanka to learn about the profound practice of Nāda Yoga, which he describes as “a combination of philosophy, medicine, metaphysics, and physical yoga, the premise of Nada Yoga is that all things in the Universe, including living beings, are made of sound vibrations, called Nada. It is believed that Nada is the building block of the cosmos and that this energy brings everything together. This connection with sound means that Nada Yoga is often associated with music, harmony, chanting, and how these things can bring beings closer to oneness with the cosmos. Nada is also often used to bring focus to ones energy centers, or Chakra. The use…